Archive for July, 2010

July 23, 2010

I’ll Take an Extra Large Helping of Granola, Please…

by Archimedes the Dog

…with double the rocks and twigs.

I realize it is becoming clear how easily distracted I am, but Gdaybloke over at Lost Hemisphere mentioned the Wold Guardian in a recent article, and now I’m becoming intrigued with my friendly neighborhood tree huggers, the Circle Oroboros.

To be honest, Hordes has always been a little less interesting to me overall than Warmachine. I like steampunk conceptually, I prefer the aesthetics of the more recent historical inspirations for the forces and cultures of Warmachine over the ancient societies of Hordes (despite my degree in Archaeology), and I like the jacks a little more than most of the beasts. Of the existing Hordes factions, I like the look of the Skorne the most (especially the Titans), and they had heretofore seemed like the most interesting faction. But then the Wold Guardian was released, and I started thinking Druish.

Fortunately, his cell phone came with a hands-free set.

Now I have always liked the idea of the Wold “beasts”. I wrote my thesis on megalithic structures in prehistoric Europe, so obviously it’s a topic that interests me. But the execution has felt a little lackluster, to be honest. Even the big daddy, Megalith himself, seems a little bland to my eye. Now the Wold Guardian, on the other hand, has the weighty feel I would expect from the constructs: if I were going to make a creature out of stone and then animate it, I’d choose the biggest boulders I could find. I also like the fact that the Wold Guardian has a pretty direct approach to his role, which is smashing things, smashing them to bits. The mental image of two of these guys running around slamming targets into the neighboring county really gives me some wicked giggles.

The question then arises as to what I should take with them. I understand that Circle is getting a new Warlock at some point, and some players feel potentially it will be a construct-oriented caster to give some options aside from Baldur the Stonecleaver, but for the moment, Baldur sounds like my choice. Now Baldur seems very closely tied to the Woldwarden and/or Megalith–very explicitly via Megalith’s ability to heal Baldur, and inherently via the Woldwarden’s ability to place a forest anywhere as a target for Baldur’s Forest Walk ability. The Woldwarden’s animus benefits the army as a whole via creating cover for their advance, Megalith’s animus is more offensively beneficial and includes a defenive benefit as well, in proportion to his increased point cost.

The Shifting Stones seem to be a natural fit for a force built with Constructs. After that, the main recommendations appear to be Tharn Bloodtrackers and Druids of Oroboros (with UA). The Bloodtrackers mainly appeal to me in game terms because they are good troops who have a little flexibility and who benefit from the feat and Stone Skin. While the Bloodtracker models have grown on me quite a bit since my negative first impression, I am terrible at painting flesh, so I fear I would get very bad results if I had to paint that much of it. The Druids of Oroboros are inherently strong on defense, and benefit even further from increased defenses and immunities granted by Baldur. I like that the Druids seem to be similar to the Retribution Battle Mages in utility and effect on the battlefield beyond pure damage; that said, I think the Druids’ Medicate ability means I am wasting a point or two on an ability I can’t use, since the warbeasts I have chosen are not “living” models.

I think it’s interesting that the main recommended units for Baldur are ranged, though his spells and abilities would benefit melee units, as well. Since a force like Khador is known for being already slow, the speed penalty of Iron Flesh isn’t something Khador players seem to try to avoid. Since the Circle forces are characterized as being fast, however, the loss of speed (and the commensurate loss of Charge) brought about by Stone Skin is a significant tradeoff for the benefits. That said, I feel like the proper order of operations could be followed to use Stone Skin with Melee units advancing under cover of Baldur’s other abilities.  I imagine that the new Warpborn Skinwalkers could make remarkable use of Stone Skin when engaged in melee.

For solos, forum wisdom seems to recommend the Blackclad Wayfarer, who seems to fill a role similar to that of Khador’s Koldun Lord in some ways and who gives the Shifting Stones further value for points spent. I really don’t see a lot of other interesting solos among the Circle forces, at least not as far as this list goes. The Lord of the Feast seems a solid addition to lists, and would probably work well with Baldur, but at four points in a beast-heavy list, I think I’d rather spread the points wider. The War Wolf might help in some capacity even without the Reeves if I have a spare point, but he spends at least some fractional value on the specific synergy with the Reeves (who generally seem not to be recommended over units such as the Nyss Hunters as having value for points spent).

Now I return to pondering the Wold Guardians. I think my serial obstinacy may get the better of me here, since likely I would not get the same utility from a pair of them as I might from a pair of Woldwardens, or a Woldwarden and Megalith plus a Wold Guardian. Indeed the forum-goers recommend an array of Megalith-Woldwarden-Wold Guardian. But I still really like the thought of two Guardians at a time.

I have messed around with a few lists built around these principle units, but I don’t really know enough about the faction to make any commitments. I do note that Circle seems to really not feel like it has the variety of the Warmachine factions I have delved into. I feel like the faction could use a few more solos and another 1-point unit that isn’t so tied to the Reeves (theoretically speaking), a little more variability in unit point values overall, and probably could use another Construct-oriented Warlock, if only for variety. I’d say I remain interested in Circle after spending a week digging around in the organic foods isle–though I still want to learn more about Skorne, as well–but nothing I found there has changed my intention to start with Khador.

July 23, 2010

Ink Wash Recipe

by Archimedes the Dog

I just received a highly useful response to a query on the Privateer Press Miniatures and Modeling forum. I inquired about brands of inks to use for creating your own washes, and received an informative link in reply, including a detailed recipe and process:

His basic recipe is simple:

Preparation:

  • Fill 1 large filler bottle with Matte Medium, the other with a 10:1 Distilled Water and Flow Aid.
  • Fill the small Dropper Bottle half way with Matte Medium then fill the rest of the way with the Water/Flow Aid mix leaving a little room for the ink drops so you dont over flow.
  • Every bottle uses this combination to start with.
  • Shake inks well before adding them to the mix.
  • Add drops of ink to desired consistency (his recipes are for 1oz dropper bottles, but the 1oz bottles look to be no longer available).

I am blatantly adding this to my blog so I have some floating bookmarks, but what the heck, maybe it will be of use to you, too. He also sells premixed, go give the guy some business!

July 16, 2010

Cloaked in Midnight

by Archimedes the Dog

I am very busy at work right now, but I added another wash and highlight on The Old Witch’s tunic and skirt, then I did the initial basecoat on her cloak. I wanted to tie her overall appearance into her “crow” theme, so I decided to paint her cloak as a midnight blue, here’s hoping it will end up achieving the desired effect.

It was remarkably arduous to get into all the little crevices and through all the detailed sections where the cloak loops around or under other elements of the model. Trying to angle the brush between her arms and deposit the paint in tiny nooks and crannies without slopping onto finished portions of my paint job was similarly difficult. I am starting to wish I had painted her before assembling her, and dealt with the hassle of assembling painted pieces instead.

I might try to highlight the tunic more.

The blue had some trouble covering the white primer uniformly, so I'll add a second coat.

The sash is going to be red, as are the shoulder pads.

I have started using these giant bottles of spice from Walmart as paint handles. I buy the bottles (for 50 cents, mind you), dump out the spices, and half fill them with gravel from the parking lot for weight. I stick the figures to the top with poster tack. This has been working very well for both priming and painting, far better than using old paint bottles as I had done before. Of course, for years I just held the base and then had to touch up the paint on the toes of their boots, but…

The size is really good for all the Warmachine base sizes.

July 15, 2010

Perhaps I’ll Just Back Away, Smiling and Nodding…

by Archimedes the Dog

…which is an understandable response when meeting a madman, a madman like the Butcher of Khardov!

The first of the two Khador lists I am considering is led by the warcaster Orsus Zoktavir, the Butcher of Khardov–also known as the pButcher, or alternatively as OMG HE’S GOT A GIANT AXE AND IS COMING RIGHT AT ME (to his friends). As I noted elsewhere, I feel like the pButcher and his Full Throttle spell leverage the inherent fun to be found in fielding lots of great stompy, steamy magical robots, but I am concerned that his playstyle might be a little one-note in the long term, and he does not seem well-suited for scenario play.

I started originally with a list founded upon a fully-loaded Winterguard Deathstar (lock, stock, and 16 smoking barrels), but after some discussion on the boards, I arrived at the following list, boasting 10 face-seeking axes:

Army: Call to Axin’
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 35 pts)
Points: 35
The Butcher of Khardov (+6 pts)
* Beast-09 (11 pts)
* Berserker (6 pts)
* Juggernaut (7 pts)
* War dog (1pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5 pts)
Widowmakers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (4 pts)
Koldun Lord (2 pts)
Widowmaker Marksman (2 pts)
Yuri the Axe (3 pts)

Now, this seems like a lot of fun. I like the fact that the War Dog and Iron Flesh combine to give ol’ Orsus a remarkable Defense stat (for Khador) in addition to his excellent Armor. I am not a fan of Beast-09 as a de rigeur auto-include–I’d rather explore some of the other options amongst Khador’s heavy iron, and that’s a lot of real-world cash to spend on one model (I frankly feel he’s inflated in price because of his perceived value on the table)–but Beast really makes sense for this list, both thematically and in his ability to draw fire away from Yuri and the Bears (individuals who are really not otherwise fit to be mentioned in polite company).  I like that the Koldun Lord can add a Focus to a ‘Jack (making up for the fact that the Butcher really needs to spend focus on spells) as well as wield his magic shotgun. And the Widowmakers and their Marksman can soften up the enemy or deal with roaming solos while the Butcher trundles along upfield.

That said, I think I can go one better with another version of the list, while losing some range:

Army: Plan of Axin’
Type: Skirmish (1 caster, 35 pts)
Points: 35
The Butcher of Khardov (+6 pts)
* Beast-09 (11 pts)
* Berserker (6 pts)
* Juggernaut (7 pts)
* War dog (1 pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5 pts)
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) (4 pts)
Koldun Lord (2 pts)
Manhunter (2 pts)
Yuri the Axe (3 pts)

Now we’re looking at 15 axes, enough to reduce any Circle Oroboros treehugger to singing folk songs about Nature and crying into their wheat grass. The loss of the Widowmakers pains me, partially because I love the models, partially because they seem to be some of the most generally useful Khador forces and are thus of high value, and partially because I am concerned about removing all long range attacks from the list.

That said, the Greylord Ternion gives me cloud cover for the advance and more magic shotguns (and, of course, more axes); there seem to be a fair number of ways to see through clouds, but in general I feel like they add a valuable defensive screen. And the Manhunter brings more free-roving threat to keep my opponent distracted, an especially valuable feature in a low-model army. To be honest, the Manhunter could be swapped for any number of two-point utility solos, including the Widowmaker Marksman, Kell Bailoch, or Harlan Versh, for example.

Every time I ponder either version of this list, I feel like the ‘Jacks are going to be a few tons of fun and it would be a great way to dig into play, without going too overboard on unusual rules or obscure synergies. A small number of models in the army helps me get to the table faster (as a slow painter), but also seems to limit some of my options for board positioning. I think it can really turn out some damage once in melee range, but the lack of a tar pit or a lot of ranged threat (in either version) forces me to play like…well…a madman!

That is most assuredly going to hurt.

For the record, here’s what my 15-point initial purchase would be, and what I’ll be trying via Vassal:

Army: Call to Axin’ 15
Type: Duel (1 caster, 15 pts)
Points: 15
The Butcher of Khardov (+6 pts)
* Berserker (6 pts)
* Juggernaut (7 pts)
* War dog (1 pts)
Great Bears of Gallowswood (5 pts)
Koldun Lord (2 pts)

July 13, 2010

Blood and Coin? Just Coin for Me, Please

by Archimedes the Dog

I picked up Forces of Warmachine: Mercenaries this weekend. I am relatively certain this will be the most popular of the Forces of… books, since most players will at least be interested in fielding a mercenary or two along the way, if not fielding an entire force of the money-grubbing bastiches.

The fiction about MacBain (MacBain!) at the beginning was a rousing good read, though I have to say it unfolded in a way that I anticipated within the first few paragraphs. I’m sad that the Motherland is still an antagonist in the fiction, while the cursed Swans remain the nominal good guys. That said, I definitely liked the way the Kayayzy were depicted–I would have anticipated that in this book Croe’s Cutthroats would have been featured in that role, instead.

The Charters I think I understood pretty well before the release of the book, so the most important new info here was the Tier Lists. The Tier List for pMagnus looks pretty strong, actually, as does that of MacBain. The only thing missing from Ashlynn’s list that I’d rather have is the Forgeguard, though I’d have to say the Precursor Knights look like a better unit than I had initially appraised them to be. I have little to no interest in playing any of the Pirates (despite the fact that I’d choose Pirate over Ninja, typically), and their Tier Lists seemed to be not very nunaced one from another in a way that I could make sense of.

The background fluff on the contracts and the various Mercenary factions was interesting, to be sure. I wish I was more versed in the world of Immoren, but at this point I am awaiting the reboot of the roleplaying game before I learn more of the broad history of the Iron Kingdoms. The character stories for the individual entries were entertaining, and even got me interested in a few units I might have otherwise overlooked, such as Alexia Ciannor. I particularly liked the fact that Eiryss’ entries were rewritten for the context of the Mercenaries book, and refer obliquely to her “mysterious motives”, rather than her explicit motives as revealed in the Retribution book.

The art throughout was mostly just alright, I’d say: I didn’t see much that excited me in particular, unlike the other Forces of… books, which all had numerous pieces to linger over. I think my favorite piece was actually the illustration for the Nyss Hunters entry, though the Horgenhold Forge Guard was a close second, followed by the fantastic illustration of the Piper of Ord with his English-Civil-War-era Van Dyck.

I found the illustration for the Ghordson Basher to be rather poor, to be honest, and I was rather dissatisfied by how many of the solos, especially, were literal depictions of the models’ poses. In addition, Kell Bailoch’s illustration is a paint-over of a photograph, and is such a significant departure from the overall art direction that I wonder what the behind-the-scenes story might have been. Still, in such a large book, with a wide variety of characters and unit types, and in the face of the overall task of creating and illustrating a large number of Forces of… books for Warmachine and Hordes, I am certain it is difficult to maintain consistent styles and consistent levels of creativity. I know I have spent a lot of time wrangling concept art from internal and external sources in my career, and it is a big task.

Overall, the  most surprising thing for me was that the book cemented my decision to field a Khador force. While I get energized about playing the faction every time I read the Khador book, I get more energized about individual models or units while reading the Mercenaries book.

July 13, 2010

My Own Little Corner of the Desert

by Archimedes the Dog

Last week I ordered some 25mm square desert bases for my Wild West figures from Dragon Forge Design, and they arrived today. I had contacted the maker to see if he could mix and match from a couple different series, but he said he wasn’t able to do so since he makes entire sets at a time, which I had anticipated. I’ll order a different set if I ever buy more Wild West minis.

The sculpting is very detailed, and the resin and casting seem to be high quality, with no bubbles, cracks, or striations. There was some heavy flashing on a couple pieces, but it came off cleanly with an hobby knife. I didn’t really want the skull and bones on the bases, so I might grind them off with the Un-Dremel and cover the damage with gravel or grass, since it seems a little too “fantasy” for historical minis.

I drilled a hole for the figure I removed from its base, and added some Gale Force 9 sand to fill in the gaps around his foot and add some extra texture variation. I’ll prime the figure and base next weekend, though I just realized I forgot to wash the resin, sigh.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.